After 35 minutes, fans could be forgiven for thinking this would be another boring, slog of a performance. However, that wasn’t the case last night. Rangers kicked into gear for the final 10 minutes of the half and produced an excellent second half display. Probably the best half of the season so far?
Make no mistake about it, no matter how you feel about the performance overall, Real Betis are one of the favourites to win the whole thing. Last night Rangers lay down a marker in the group by beating the strongest side. Away in Seville will be a much different game but fans should be allowed to revel in what was an excellent, and deserved, victory.
If Rangers can carry on the performance from the last hour of the game yesterday, then they’ll have no problem going on a domestic winning run. The win and most of the performance are encouraging signs and something to build on. The big thing now though, is to find the consistency and go on that necessary winning streak until the next OF game.
Rangers Look More Dangerous With Wingers
It’s no real surprise is it? When Rangers play with pace on the wings they carry a much bigger threat going forward. Even with Sima and, particularly, Matondo not being the most polished players, their biggest asset is their pace. That is what causes problems for defences.
At the start of this season, Rangers have been too narrow. There’s been no pace in the forward line. That makes the football predictable and, also, boring. That’s where the criticism comes from, playing with too many players that come towards the ball leaves the person on it with very few options. Having pace either side with players who want to get in behind gives a different option. Especially when both of those players are capable of carrying the ball up the pitch.
This was apparent within the first 5 minutes last night. Matondo ended up taking the shot too early and it was a poor finish. However, his pace is what makes the chance and he’ll always be willing to run in behind.
Have Matondo and Sima been frustrating so far this season? Yes, but they provide something that Rangers don’t have enough of, sheer, raw pace.
John Lundstram Loves Thursday Nights
In Rangers Europa League run, John Lundstram was arguably the most impressive player on the pitch in the big moments. However, since then he hasn’t managed to hit those heights consistently, or, at all. When he’s on it though, he’s a terrific footballer. Not only on the ball but off of it, he presses well and gets the rest of the team up for it.
These were his numbers last night;
- 90 Minutes Played
- 90% Pass Accuracy (44/49)
- 3 Chances Created
- 5 Passes Into The Final Third
- 75% Tackles Won (3/4)
- 10 Recoveries
- 57% Ground Duels Won (4/7)
Exactly what Rangers need from him, he was the driving force from midfield in the second half. As Rangers grew into the game, so did the Englishman and it was brilliant to see. Thursday night John Lundstram is back and I hope he can carry that form into domestic matches!
Another Game Unbeaten for Ben Davies And Connor Goldson
In 19 matches playing together, the duo have helped Rangers to 18 wins and 1 draw. Truly incredible numbers and should cement them as the first choice pairing from now. Both were excellent last night but particular credit has to be given to Ben Davies.
He had been out the side with John Souttar favoured before the international break. However, the Scotland international was guilty of making multiple mistakes, costing Rangers goals. Davies came in at the weekend and was solid, especially considering he’d barely seen any minutes since preseason.
Last night though, he was excellent, especially against a strong opponent in Borja Iglesias. Previous criticism had been that he couldn’t deal with the physicality of some Scottish strikers but he dealt with a top forward last night. Iglesias’ game is as a target man who backs into defenders and makes their lives difficult. However, Davies dealt with him brilliantly and hopefully he carries this form into the weekend.
For 35 minutes last night, it was poor, there’s no denying that. However, for the last hour of the game, Rangers were the better side. For the last 5 minutes of the first half and in spells of the second half, they played genuinely good football and probably should’ve won more comfortably.
There seems to be a narrative on social media that because it wasn’t the perfect performance, fans shouldn’t enjoy it. However, if the last 60 minutes of the game is a sign of things to come then fans should be encouraged. There were positive signs and it’s a great result, against a great side, enjoy it!
How did you feel about the performance as a whole? Who was your man of the match? Are you encouraged going forward from now or are you holding on to your doubts?
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